THE National Farmers’ Federation has called on governments to act immediately to control Australia’s 24 million-strong feral pig population. NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said, “Feral pigs destroy crops, degrade soil and water and spread weeds.”
“Alarmingly, they also have the potential to spread endemic and exotic diseases such as African swine fever. “Specifically, we’re asking all levels of government to commit to investing in and working with industry towards the more effective control of feral pigs.” The call comes following the confirmation of ASF in Timor Leste, barely 600km from Australia’s shores.
While the Government has implemented a number of measures to reduce the risk of ASF entering Australia, the threat remains very real.
“The spread of ASF to Australia has the potential to decimate our commercial pork industry and the livelihoods of farming families and the communities they contribute to,” Mr Mahar said.
Since the disease took hold just over 13 months ago, more than 50 percent of China’s commercial pig population has been wiped out.
Analysts estimate the world’s pig numbers have already been cut by 25 percent. At a meeting in Canberra recently, NFF members unanimously agreed to request the Government invest in and strengthen Australia’s biosecurity systems to protect primary production, the community, the environment and the economy.
“It is vital that as a nation, we direct the resourcing required to deliver and continually improve the systems that safeguard agriculture from devastating pests and diseases. “As the risk of major biosecurity threats to Australia continues to grow, the systems that keep Australia free of the world’s worst pests and diseases must be absolute.”
Mr Mahar said ASF was a frightening reminder of what could happen without rigorous safeguards and more needed to be done now to bolster biosecurity.
“If we don’t step up our biosecurity systems, ASF and other pests and diseases could destroy our agricultural industries and compromise our access to key international markets that value the clean, safe status of our produce,” he said.
“Our unique natural environment and way of life are also at risk if unwanted pests and diseases are allowed to enter and establish in Australia.
“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility and a united call from industry for further government investment and action sends a message on the gravity of the issue.”